Eyewitness Meyshke Preys (Misha Preisas): Kovno (Kaunas), 23 June 1941
Meyshke Preys (Misha Preis/Preisas)
Interviewed by Dovid Katz
Translation by Jordan Kutzik
Meyshke Preys (Misha Preis) of Kovno (Kaunas), born 27 Feb 1930, remembers Monday morning 23 June 1941, when white-armbanded Lithuanian 'partisan patriots' came into his courtyard, pulled all the Jewish residents into the yard and shot them dead (several days before the arrival of any Germans). But he also remembers that he and his family were saved by his incredibly brave Lithuanian friend, Albinas, a boy roughly his age, son of the caretaker, who told the 'partisan patriots' that there were no more Jews to be found, having set up his own mother to sit on the Jewish family's veranda and peel potatoes as cover. Meyshke's parents, Hirshl and Rokhl, his three sisters Ríve, Berta and Dora (Dvéyre), and Dora's husband Meyshe all perished later on in the Lithuanian Holocaust. Meyshke Preis himself, after surviving the Kovno Ghetto, was deported to Shutthof, then Auschwitz, and then Dachau, where he was liberated by the Americans on 2 May 1945. He recalls GIs begging him not to return, but he was determined to find at least one living relative, and returned (and found nobody). After the war, he tried unsuccessfully to find the young man who saved him (and on the day, his entire family). Albinas was one of the two sons of the caretaker of the residences at Ugniagesi? 13 in Kaunas in 1941. Meyshke asks if maybe there is a way even now to check the list of residents and the official caretaker, as of 23 June 1941. Interviewed in Svintsyán (Šven?ionys), 7 July 2011.
FAREWELL TO ZOYA PREIS (Zofija Preisien?)
Meishke Preis (Miša Preisas), bids farewell at the Vilnius Jewish cemetery today to his beloved wife of over 50 years. She passed away on Monday.
Zoya, born on 1 March 1937 to Jewish parents in what is now western Belarus was left as a girl of four or five to Christians by her Jewish parents on their way to the local death pit during the Holocaust. Their names remain unknown. She was then lovingly brought up by the Belarusian family Dauksha in the village Zabolov who told her what they knew of her origins.
Zoya was beloved by the people of Svintsyán (Šven?ionys) for her warmth, radiant smile, generosity and constant gestures of hospitality and help to all.
Meishke was himself born in Kovno (Kaunas), and is a Kovno Ghetto survivor. For around half a century he and Zoya lived in Svintsyán, where he is now the last Jew. Some of his memories of the outbreak of the Holocaust in Kaunas at: